Category Archives: Parenting

Helping Children Cope With Divorce – A New Initiative

Children are the often forgotten victims in a divorce. Even when they are acknowledged though, it is often extremely difficult to know how to help them understand while your own life is spiraling out of control.

If you have young ones and you are not sure how to help them, or you have been through this already and know the difficulty then I wanted to bring to your attention a nice little initiative that is being crowd-sourced.

Dr Leigh Weisz is a psychologist and the author behind a great childrens book about coping with divorce. Dr Weisz is now trying to get the funding to turn a simple picture book into an animated cartoon that will engage young kids even more so they can understand what is happening to their parents and how to cope.

I think this is a great idea so if you have just a little bit of spare cash and want to contribute then head over to their crowd-sourcing site and contribute!

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/create-animated-cartoon-to-help-children-cope-with-divorce

Keep being great parents!

Children Coping With Divorce – Do Kids Get It As Bad As We Think?

Is Divorce Bad For KidsAs I have mentioned many time on my blog, children suffer the worst in divorce. While the emotional anguish a man after a divorce feel is incredibly difficult to deal with, children do not have the sort of maturity to understand and process what is happening. However, I read an article recently that challenged this view and indicated that children might have no long lasting issues due to divorce . So what is the truth of the matter? Is divorce really bad for kids or not?

The article states this:

Divorce affects most children in the short run, but research suggests that kids recover rapidly after the initial blow. In a 2002 study psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington of the University of Virginia and her then graduate student Anne Mitchell Elmore found that many children experience short-term negative effects from divorce, especially anxiety, anger, shock and disbelief. These reactions typically diminish or disappear by the end of the second year. Only a minority of kids suffer longer. – (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=is-divorce-bad-for-children)

I really question the methodology of this survey. They do not elaborate very much on how they came to the conclusion that kids do not suffer very long, or that it does not effect them further into adulthood. There is no mention of how big the sample size for this is either – though perhaps the book they are taking this from goes into more depth. MY personal opinion is that there is a LOT of damage that a BAD divorce can do to children in the short and long term. While children are very good at bouncing back from many of life’s troubles, how many times have we heard of men and women who have serious issues that come from buried memories and emotions they could never get through as a child. No survey can go that deep unless they are doing some serious psychological profiling.

Now, it does clarify that children coming from divorces that are extremely bad are going to suffer the most, while those who divorce well lead to happier children. That seems a no-brainer to me. However it goes on to state this which has me worried about the message and methodology again:

These findings suggest that only 15 percent of adult children of divorce experience problems over and above those from stable families. No one knows whether this difference is caused by the divorce itself or by variables, such as poorer parenting, that often accompany a marriage’s dissolution.

Cute Kid DivorceSo what they are saying is they do not consider the quality of life and the parenting patterns after divorce to be a part of how divorce affects children? How can it NOT be a part of this equation. How do they measure this? 15% seems too low to me, but it shows that it certainly does effect children long term and this is a MINIMUM number as I am certain they did not dig deep enough to find more problems.

Now, I do not want to scare men recovering from divorce about the state of their children. In fact I am encouraged that there are signs that children do bounce back fast from divorce. It also re-enforces my point about good co-parenting that is essential to minimise the impact of divorce. Good management of your divorce with as little conflict as possible seems to be the way to mitigate the worst of divorce fallout on your children and it may lead to a good recovery for them in the long term. I hope that is a spot of light if you are worrying about the mental health of your children.

It also states that is a marriage was so full of conflict before the divorce, then a separation might actually be more beneficial to the child. So if you were in an abusive relationship it could be a better outcome that you split as well, but only as long as you continue to manage parenting them well.

but what about me ebookMy eBook on Men After Divorce is mostly about helping men get through the struggles of being a divorced man and dad very often. However I am not a child psychologist or expert on children apart from being a father myself – I will not pretend to be an expert. One person that Is an expert however is Wendy Mollah the author of a really cool children’s book called But What about Me?. If you are looking for a way to help your kids understand the divorce so you can be a good father and help them while you are helping yourself through the hard emotional slog of divorce, then this might be a good way to help. Check out her site here if you are looking for some help in this area, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea but it might be right up your alley too.

www.HelpingKidsThroughDivorce.com

Co-Parenting For Men After Divorce

coparenting for men after divorceCo-parenting after divorce can be a major hassle, but it is in the very best interests of the child to do so. For those not familiar with the term, it basically  means that you work together with your partner to help raise your children, rather than working separately to raise them which is often called parallel parenting.

Parallel Parenting

The problems with parallel parenting are manifold. You are both parenting in different styles, different times, and conflicts will happen. Children are much happier when there is consistency in their lives and divorce breaks that to start with – then parents doing very different things will break it even further.

In fact, the less you talk and plan with your ex about how to be parents to your children, the more problems you are going to have with your ex, your kids, and possibly the law as well. Children of all ages simply will not understand how parents can divorce and then seem to become such different people with different rules afterwards. Children of parallel parenting also learn very quickly how to play each parent off against each other to get what they want and the habits they from here will stay with them for long into their adulthood – especially the bad examples set by parents who cannot work together and solve problems.

Co-Parenting

So, instead of parenting without the other persons involvement – the better way to handle things for your own sanity, and the mental health of your children is working together and developing a co-parenting plan. This basically means you must meet with your ex and create a plan that you can both stick to when it comes to parenting and get their absolute buy in on the idea for the sake of your children. Some tips to help make this happen:

  • Treat this like a business partnership. Do not go into emotions, or legalities, or anything else. Be as logical an unemotional as possible and always be matter of fact and calm when working out co-parenting. Keep a formal tone as if it was a business transaction not two ex lovers talking.
  • Negotiations will happen. When you are living together and are married you will have made concessions to allow your partner her way sometimes, and she would hopefully do the same for you. Your lifestyle, and your parenting styles would be similar but still different – but the proximity and willingness to make it work would simply happen as you both try to be good parents and partners. After a divorce though,most people want to get their own way as they change their lives and this can come into conflict with your wants for parenting. So in line with treating this as a business partnership, you must also negotiate things with a bit of give and take. You cannot demand anything – but you cannot be walked over either – you must be flexible.
  • Be kid focused. When you talk about co-parenting do not get sidetracked onto anything else at all. Keep the focus of your arrangements and talks with your children as he only topic of conversation. If she tries to drag it away from kids just ask her to concentrate on the parenting side whenever you are engaging in a talk about co-parenting
  • Listen. I know the LAST thing you want to listen to is your ex-wife. It can be painful and grating especially if they are unkind. However, if you keep your talks kid focused you need to listen and not just switch off because you need to know what is going on in her life and household as it related to the kids.
  • Schedule everything. Get organised and get a schedule going. Put all agreements down on paper and digital form and make sure you stick to it, and make sure she does as well. Children who know what to expect and when are happier and less prone to anxiety and outbursts.
  • Update your parenting plan an schedule each year. Kids get older, circumstances change, stuff happens. If your pans and schedules are old and outdated to what is happening now, then you are going to have to revise it. Sometimes you might do this every 6 months, or if a big change happens such as moving away, remarrying and so forth. But at least once a year reorganise your co-parenting plan.

It might be easier said that done – especially when you are trying to cope with post divorce life yourself, and not doing too well at it. However, this is a fundamental piece of the puzzle of divorce that will grant you much greater satisfaction with your life because you know you have done the right thing by your children.

Divorce Advice for Men With Kids

divorce advice for men with kids

Divorce is a tough enough process for a man without the added burden of being a good father during this period of emotional and financial strain. I have also found that most divorce advice for men with kids tend to focus on legal aspects of keeping custody while almost ignoring the emotional aspect of the whole process. This is the welfare of your children but also the welfare of your own psychological well-being as well.

While the legal proceedings are essential to get right. The real reason you should be doing it all is to be a good father right? Not just because you want to spite your ex by taking the kids from her. The very reasons we pursue the legal options is because of conflict and mistrust that can breed in us some very undesirable qualities if we are not careful. This is a little beside the point of this post but something to consider anyway …

What I really want to talk about though is just what you should, and should NOT do when it comes to kids in your divorce. This is based on the need to do the very best for your children in trying circumstances, but also do right by yourself so you can recover from a divorce and move on without hatred, anger, jealousy, anxiety, or any other negative emotions that will sabotage any new relationships – not to mention dealing with your day to day life. Without further ado …

What NOT To Do During a Divorce With Kids

children as pawns1. Use Kids As Pawns – I know, you probably think you would never do that. That you do NOT do that … but are you really? Using children as a way to hurt your ex, to prove a point, to carry messages, or any other numbers of behaviours that brings your children into the conflict between you and your ex; this is not healthy for them or yourself. There are so many subtle ways that people use children to serve a more selfish purpose and even the smallest things things can have a profound effect on how they see the world as they grow up.

2. Assume You Always Know Best – I know this is going to sound a bit harsh to some, but you might be making emotional decisions about your child’s welfare not logical ones. We can get so caught up in our divorce battle and our own internal demons that sometimes we might be thinking about what is best for US not for the kids. Sometimes what is best for them might not feel right when we are not in the right frame of mind.

3. Act Poorly In Front of Them – Now you should not act poorly in front of your kids ever if you can help it. However during a divorce we can say some pretty terrible things about our ex-wives and that comes out in front of children sometimes. You always have to remember that your children have a father AND a mother and no matter how bad your ex is, they will most likely hold quite some attachment for BOTH of you. The more you erode this in front of them the more it may backfire on you – or warp their ideas of marriage, love and parenthood.

What To Do During a Divorce With Kids

divorce and kids

1. Be a Father When You Are Around Them – The first bit of divorce advice for men with kids is that your children are the ones who are the most blameless people in this sorry affair and they need to feel some sense of security in a world that is suddenly being torn apart. The younger they are, the less likely they are able to converse properly with you about what has happened and will happen. The only way to really reassure them is to be a father, a dad – not a divorced man, not an abandoned lover, not an man angry at the law/courts/lawyers. You can be all these things while you process this devastating time but not for your kids. They need a father even when you might not feel like being a good one. While It is not good to hide your feelings deep inside, being a good father does not mean lying to your kids. It just means being the hero they need you to be for their small world when they need you … do your best and let the other stuff out when you can be just a man.

2. Let Them Know It Is Not Their Fault – Children too often blame themselves for a divorce. There are many reasons for this but since the family unit is all they have ever known it cannot occur to them naturally that mommy and daddy just can’t be together anymore and so they blame their own actions. This can be very traumatising, so make sure to tell them it is not their fault at all and that they are loved no matter what. They may not understand fully if they are younger but as they grow it will make more sense – if they are not told it will fester into something horrible inside them.

3. Do The Right Thing With Money & Time – I am not going to comment on the state of divorce courts and fairness or not of legalities. It is a minefield that I try not to walk into because it is beside the point of the emotional healing needed for men after divorce. It is painful, it is awful, it is heart rending to see so much of your finances destroyed, ripped apart and years of planning set alight yes. Fight all you can for equality, fight all you can for fairness – but whatever you do … do NOT shirk your responsibility to your child if you have to pay child support. Do not neglect them time wise if you only get to see them in limited amounts. Your spouse might make life hell for you in this regard treating these things as weapons to hurt you but you cannot stoop that low. kids asking questions about divorceYou must remain as the responsible parent for your children’s sake.

4. Let Them Ask Questions – Sometimes the questioning of a child is the most heart rending thing. They ask you the questions that you perhaps cannot even ask yourself yet let alone answer. However if children fel they cannot ask questions then they might start to blame themself as has been mentioned, or they start to imagine lots of things that might not be true. They want to understand just as you might want to understand why these things are happening – except the younger they are the less they can piece things together. Let them ask even if you may not be able to answer – just make sure you respond following the guidelines already stated.

5. Love Them First & Foremost – I do not think this really needs to be stated for you. You already know your children are such important elements in your life and you know you have to help and protect them. So this is just a reminder than there is time to grieve and look inward. You need that time, just make sure you never put this before your kids. I know you all  will follow this last bit of divorce advice for men with kids :)

Dads in Distress – Support for Divorced Fathers

For those like me living in Australia it is Fathers day! I had a great morning with the kids before I dropped them back at their mothers. It always amazes me at how happy we can be despite the troubles we had during the divorce. I remember how I thought I had failed as a father and how they would hate me even though their mother initiated the divorce.

The lack of support at the time was what really hit home to me. Women had all sorts of places, support lines, organisations, and even just friends more open to help. Guys have very little and their friends while in many cases helpful are not emotionally equipped to really give the support needed.

In a sad case, I had a friend who nearly broke up with his wife because she didn’t want him talking with me because she thought I was some terrible man who deserved to be divorced. He ignored her and gave me a lot of physical help moving and so forth for which I thank him greatly. It does show just how deep the lack of support can bite for men even socially.

Children though is where it is hardest. Support for fathers is in even shorter supply perhaps because society does not VALUE fathers enough in my opinion. Or at least they think that divorced fathers are not worth the effort which is a sad statement which saddens and infuriates me … which is why I found an interesting article for a new group on the Central coast of New South Wales in Australia called Dads in Distress.

I found it through a local news article ( http://express-advocate-gosford.whereilive.com.au/news/story/dads-in-distress-help-group-born ) and it sounds like a great idea. Helping fathers recover form divorce to help themselves and their children. I hope there are more and more of these sorts of groups around the world because it is sorely needed.

There are more men’s groups popping up here and there and I want you to know this is you are struggling because it is wroth seeking them out. If you need any further help of course please get a copy of my Men After Divorce guide which I keep getting positive feedback on so I hope it can help you too.